Last Friday, I talked about Kate Moss’ “pro-ana” comment and asked you what you thought about the public’s response – specifically, whether the public has the right to hold the model, and celebrities in general, responsible for the things they say.
Now I’m wondering what you think about Morrissey’s recent comments on suicide.
During a recent Desert Island Discs with Kirsty Young interview (BBC Radio 4), the British singer and songwriter, who’s pretty well known for his melancholy lyrics, admitted to having contemplated suicide and claimed the act of taking one’s own life was “an act of great self-control” and “honorable.”
During Desert Island Discs, each “castaway” (guest) is asked to choose eight records, one book, and one luxury item to bring with him to a desert island. As if Morrissey’s opinions on suicide weren’t disturbing enough, he chose two items as his luxury items: A bed and a bottle of sleeping pills, “in case he might want to make a quick exit.”
(Because castaways are only allowed to choose one luxury item, Morrissey eventually settled on the bed. Feel better? Me either.)
“Anything which glorifies something as terrible as self-harm is of great concern. We are facing an increase in this kind of behaviour among young people. It’s a great pity that someone as famous as Morrissey should make self-harm and suicide seem heroic.”
So, yeah – there’s been some backlash.
As for my own thoughts on Morrissey’s comments on suicide?
Initially, they lined up with Wallace’s. Suicide is no laughing matter, nor is it the kind of topic anyone should toss around to make a point or add shock value. You’ve probably heard the old saying, but it’s always worth repeating: “Suicide is a permanent answer to a temporary problem.” Celebrities have serious social influence (hmm…haven’t I said that before?), and it seems like anything they say that could potentially lead someone to believe suicide is admirable or cool can’t be a good thing, right? (For the record, I feel the same way about us non-famous folk talking this way about suicide, too.)
Then I started thinking about the Kate Moss incident. While I feel her comment was unfortunate and graceless, I also feel like she has the right to say what she wants without having to worry about an angry mob accusing her of failing to use her celebrity for good.
And I realized my thoughts didn’t exactly line up.
Why should I feel like we shouldn’t be upset with Moss for what she said, and at the same time feel like Morrissey should have never said what he said?
Is it because Moss’ comment didn’t specifically mention anorexia, while Morrissey’s comment outright addressed suicide? After all, I’m sure my opinion about Moss’ comment would be different if she’d actually said “It’s honorable to starve oneself.”
Or, is it because death comes more swiftly with a completed suicide than it does with anorexia? Is some part of my subconscious telling me that suicide is worse because, unlike with anorexia, there’s no time left to try to help the person? I want to say yes, but the rational part of me knows that, just like with anorexia, there is most often a time period of physical and mental illness that leads up to actual death.
What do YOU think? Should Morrissey have refrained from making his suicide comments? Does your opinion about his comments line up with how you feel about Moss’ maybe/maybe not “pro-ana” comment?
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From Psych Central's website:
PsychCentral (December 1, 2009)
Kaz (December 1, 2009)
From Psych Central's Alicia Sparks:
Is Media Coverage Of Suicide “Grossly Irresponsible”? | Celebrity Psychings (February 15, 2010)
Last reviewed: 30 Nov 2009